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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Easter is on the way and personally I try not to use this as an excuse for a massive binge but my family always want to indulge the kids so this year I am going to try and point them in the right direction and get some high quality fair trade chocolate.

So if you need to buy gifts for kids or want to treat a friend (or yourself) what are you options if you want to avoid bland and soulless chocolate Easter eggs?

1. Ethical superstore has a great range of fair-trade and organic Easter products.  For children this Dubble egg is perfect, at £3.50.  They also sell in a pack of 6 so if you have a big family or a few to buy for you can save almost 20%.  The Dubble Egg has a quiz competition on the reverse, and proceeds from sales go to assist Comic Relief.

2. Oxfam Online and in store have a great selection of fair-trade chocolate.  My absolute favourite are the Divine dark chocolate mini eggs £2.99.  Mumzine have been testing these this week on kids and parents and they are loved by all.  Perfect for Easter egg hunts.

On the high-street head to the Co Op.  The Co-operative is stepping-up its ethical Easter offering by reducing the packaging on its Fairtrade Easter Eggs.  The two best-selling thick Fairtrade eggs – one milk and one dark chocolate – were a firm favourite with ethically-minded customers last year.  This year, packaging has been reduced by 28%.

Peter Rabbit – £12.95 – If you are steering away from the chocolate this Peter Rabbit soft toy is beautifully made with 100% soft cotton fabric and stuffed with eco-friendly recycled filling.  With an adorable linen jacket and a carrot to munch on, this is a very cute alternative to an egg.

And for a grown up Easter present with a twist how about this fair trade applique Chicken Tea Cosy – £9.95

Lastly, I find it hard to talk about chocolate without talking about Green and Blacks.  So for anyone out there thinking of buying me an egg this is my adult egg of choice.  Green and Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate Praline Filled Mini Egg – £3.49 at Ethical Superstore

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Dalziel Douglas from The Black Douglas introduces us to her amazing Black Currant and amaretto cheese cake

“Try this party piece that will knock your guests pants off!
.

You will need:

  • 1 x 9 inch cake tin
  • 1 x 250 grams dry amaretto biscuits from super market or deli
  • 1 x pack of frozen black currants or forest fruits
  • 125 grams unsalted butter
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 250grams mascapone
  • 250 grams Greek yogurt
  • few drops of top quality vanilla essence

Instructions:

  • Defrost berries a room temperature 2.5 hours before.
  • Melt butter in a pan
  • Grease and line tin
  • Crush amaretto biscuits and mix with melted butter
  • Press biscuit mix into tin.
  • Mix yogurt, vanilla essence, mascapone and 3 oz sugar
  • Spread mascapone mix onto biscuit base.
  • Put berries onto mascapone mix
  • Shake remaining 3oz sugar onto berries.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hrs

This can be quite difficult to cut, so remove from tin onto plate first (leaving base of tin under cheesecake). Cut with a large kitchen knife and press blade through biscuit base slowly and carefully applying maximum, even pressure.

This goes very nicely with espresso and a cointreau or amaretto liqueur.”

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Butter Bean Hummus from Dalziel Douglas from The Black Douglas Coffee House. “I made the most amazing butter bean hummus for the restaurant this week…unmistakably top notch!”

Ingredients:

  • 1 x tin butter beans
  • 1 x heaped soup spoon dark tahini
  • pinch Maldon Sea Salt
  • half teaspoon smoked paprika
  • extra virgin olive oil for texture and taste…or water!!!
  • a small squeeze of lemon or lime and more to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 x dried rose buds, crushed and powdered if available. I get mine from Jing Tea
  • 1 X roasted quarter head of garlic
  • 1 handful sunflower seeds
  • 2 X generous soup spoons of cumin and coriander dry toasted and crushed

Instructions:

Put all raw ingredients in a large bowl. dry fry cumin and coriander seeds and then pummel in a pestle and mortar. Roast 3 cloves of garlic in their skins in the oven at 180 until soft. squeeze the soft insides into the bowl. The oil or water is to loosen the mix and make it easy to blend. I prefer to use strong extra virgin olive oil. Dry fry sunflower seeds until golden brown.

BLEND UNTIL SMOOTH. add more olive oil and lemon to taste. I like to serve this stuff with grilled or fried halloumi and green herb salad with pomegranate seeds. garnish with a few rose petals and sunflower seeds.

Delicious.

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Fairtrade Fortnight is upon us and the Fairtrade Foundation are asking us to swap everyday shopping basket items such as tea, coffee, chocolate, cotton tee-shirts, pineapples, bananas, cakes, sugar and lots more for Fairtrade alternatives during Fairtrade Fortnight 2010 (22 February – 7 March).

The aim is to get people in Britain to make one million and one swaps over the two-week period and change the lives of millions of farmers around the world.

With more than 4,500 products licensed to carry the Fairtrade Mark there should be an option for all budgets.

However, if you feel like celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight in style, check out Burberry muse, Emma Watson’s new 100% organic and Fairtrade collection for People Tree.

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If you are learner in the kitchen this is a great place to start as it is a cinch and tastes delicious.  Perfect for the veggies out there.

Ingredients:

  • 1 x packet of puff pastry
  • 8 x large organic portabello mushrooms
  • 1 x bunch fresh tarragon or handful of dried tarragon
  • 4 x plump cloves garlic
  • 2 x organic leeks or 1 x red onion
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Set oven to 180/gas mark 4
  • Grease a large roasting tin with butter roll out the pastry so it fits into the tin bake until pale gold and puffed up.
  • Slice garlic and saute in butter (set aside)
  • Slice mushrooms and saute in butter (set aside)
  • Slice leeks and saute in butter.  Then mix above together and add tarragon, a pinch of salt and several twists of black pepper.
  • Mix again and put mushroom mix onto pastry leaving an inch around the edge free of filling and stick back in oven for another 20 mins until outer edge is deep golden and more puffed up.

Serve with a dry white Sauvignon and a delicious herb salad.

Herb salad – ingredients

  • 1 x bunch coriander
  • 1 x bunch dill
  • 1 x bunch rocket
  • Strong extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Pepper and Maldon sea salt

Instructions:

  • Wash and chop herbs add olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and salt to taste
  • Toss and serve

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It’s Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday) in the UK on the 16th February. Falling just before Lent it was traditionally a day of fun and feasting before fasting for 40 days of Lent.

Not sure we’ll be fasting, it’s too cold for that, but we’ll definitely be indulging in some tasty pancakes.

Here’s some ideas to excite the kids and get their mouths watering

Abandon the traditional round pancake and get creative with shapes. Make a variety of shapes by pouring the pancake batter into shapes on the griddle as you make the pancakes. For example, make a teddy bear face by making one large circle and two smaller circles near the top for the ears. Place fresh fruit onto the face of the teddy bear.

Place the pancake batter into a plastic squeeze bottle to help create a variety of different shapes on the griddle. Make pancakes in letters to spell a child’s name. Make heart or star-shaped pancakes. Place metal cookie cutters on a griddle and pour the pancake batter into the cookie cutters.

Take your pick from sweet or savoury fillings. Strawberries, blueberries, apples or caramelised bananas. Add a little ice cream, whipped cream or yoghurt if you’re trying to be healthy.

Choose from toppings like fruit sauces made from blueberries, strawberries etc or maple syrup, chocolate sauce, and molasses. Or simply dust with icing sugar.

Cheese, ham, spinach, bolognese sauce, peppers, mushrooms and chicken all make tasty ingredients for a savoury pancake.

Go wheat free. Here’s a great gluten free american buttermilk pancake recipe or try a buckwheat pancake.

Once the kids are in bed, crack open the booze cabinet and treat yourself to an apple and calvados or rum and banana pancake.

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Baby led weaning is becoming more and more popular. It’s based on a paper written by Gill Rapley (Deputy Programme Director of Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative), it means not giving purees and instead introducing your 6 month old child to finger foods from the start.

Using solid food allows a baby to feed themselves – no spoon feeding. Food should be offered in shapes and sizes that your baby can handle and they will feed themselves using their fingers. They choose what to eat, how much and how quickly.

That’s the essence of BLW. No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no baby rice, no mixing everything with expressed breast milk and no preparing everything weeks in advance.

I came across this method when I was weaning my 2nd child. She refused point blank to be spoon feed anything apart from yoghurt. She loved feeding herself and has an extremely healthy appetite, more so than my 1st child who was weaned using purees. It made life so much easier. I made one meal for the 2 of them and they both tucked in.

Don’t they choke?

There is no more risk of choking than with any other method of introducing solids. Gill Rapley argues that as long as babies can sit upright, the fact that they can handle their own food and move it to the back of their mouths means the risk of choking is minimal. However, it is important to remember that babies should never be left unattended when eating. Foods with stones in should also be avoided like cherries and olives.

We did experience some gagging during the process, but gagging, as opposed to choking, is actually a safety response to food travelling too far back into the mouth so when we see our babies gagging they are actually handling the problem and it’s best just to keep calm (or at least look calm) and wait until it passes.

Foods I tried were peas, sweetcorn, toast, butternut squash, fish, mince, eggy bread, omelettes, chicken, rissotto, meat stews, baked beans (low salt and sugar ones), rice and many more. Here’s some BLW recipes.

There are some great benefits of BLW, baby becomes part of family meals and frankly it’s so much easier than dealing with the spoon feeding stand offs.

It helps babies practice hand-eye coordination every time they use their fingers to take food to their mouths. Holding foods of different sizes and textures a few times a day helps improve babies dexterity. Also because all their senses (touch, smell, taste, hear) are involved babies learn to relate all these things together for a better understanding of the world around them.

Meal times can be messy but clearing up solid food is still easier than mopping up puree.

(courtesy of baby led weaning)

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